Giles de Argentein of Melbourn & Wymondley 1 2 3
- Born: 1210
- Marriage (1): Margery de Aguillon before 1239
- Died: Bef 20 Dec 1282 4
Another name for Giles was Giles de Argentine of Wymondley & Melbourn.
Giles de Argentein, Richard's son and successor, is first mentioned in September 1230, as being overseas on the king's service, presumably in France, where Henry had launched a military expedition to regain Normandy (Close Roll). The following year, Giles was fighting against Prince Llewellyn in Wales, where he and another unnamed son of Richard were captured by the Welsh (Dunstable Annals). In June 1242, he was again summoned for military service against the French, in Henry III's unsuccessful expedition to regain Poitou (Close Roll). As noted above, part of his father's estates seem to have been settled on him in the 1230s and 1240s, the latter presumably during Richard's absence on Crusade.
He was married, by the late 1230s, to Margery, the daughter, and one of four coheirs, of Robert Aguillon. There is little doubt that she was the mother of Giles's son and heir Reginald, but her inheritance seems not to have been retained by the family. Perhaps for this reason, contradictory statements have been made about her marriage and heir (see discussion).
Giles de Argentein came to political prominence late in life, as a result of the baronial reform movement led by Simon de Montfort. When Giles's fortunes over the next few years are examined, the close parallel with those of de Montfort, as related by Maddicott (chapters 5-7), is striking.
We first hear of Giles holding high office when, in May 1258, Henry III agreed to the establishment of a council of 24 to reform the realm. Giles was one of the 12 members of the committee nominated by the barons, and was also a member of another committee of 24 appointed to negotiate an aid for the king (Burton Annals).
Soon afterwards, Giles de Argentein was appointed - as his father Richard had been - a royal steward. In this capacity his name appears in many documents between September 1258 and February 1260 (Close Rolls). The end of this period coincides with an open break with the reform movement, made by the king when he forbade the holding of a Parliament at Candlemas. Later in 1260, de Montfort enjoyed a temporary restoration to influence, and again we find Giles holding office. In November, he was appointed a member of two commissions to look into local difficulties at Dunwich and Cambridge (Patent Roll), and in December he was appointed a justice itinerant - as his grandfather Reginald had been - for the Midland counties (Close Roll).
In the following year, Henry III again asserted his authority against the barons, and we hear no more of Giles's official career until the Summer of 1263, when de Montfort gained control of south-eastern England. In August, Giles was made constable of Windsor (Patent Roll), from which foreign mercenaries under the king's son, Prince Edward, had just been expelled. The barons' success was short-lived: on 16 October, Prince Edward seized Windsor Castle, and de Montfort's administration crumbled. (The following month, the Patent Roll euphemistically refers to Giles de Argentein's 'withdrawal' from the constableship.)
Open war broke out the following Spring between the royalists and the barons. Giles de Argentein was among those to whom Henry III on 11 May addressed a final appeal to return to fealty (Close Roll). The appeal failed, and on 14 May at Lewes, Simon de Montfort comprehensively defeated the royalists, and effectively captured the king and his son, Prince Edward. We do not know if Giles was personally present at the battle, but he immediately benefited from the outcome. In June he was made Guardian of the Peace for Cambridgeshire (Rymer, vol.1, p.793) and, more importantly, he was appointed one of the Council of Nine by which the country was to be governed (Burton).
In the following months he remained with the captive king, as copious documentary evidence shows. We can trace the progress of de Montfort's party into the Welsh Marches, as their fortunes worsened, and to Hereford, where Prince Edward escaped from their custody on 28 May (Close Rolls). Finally Simon de Montfort and his supporters were trapped by the royalists at Evesham, and annihilated there on 4 August 1265. Giles de Argentein is known to have fought at Evesham (Inquisitions Miscellaneous), and one contemporary source even includes him in the list of the leading Montfortians who were killed there (London Annals). Although he was not killed, the king's victory was - temporarily - disastrous for him and his family.
As a defeated rebel, Giles de Argentein immediately suffered the seizure of all his lands. In the Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous are details of eleven of the estates which were confiscated - at Weston, Wymondley, Lilley and Willian in Hertfordshire, Flitcham and Wilton in Norfolk, Halesworth, Newmarket and Burton in Suffolk, Bumpstead in Essex and Pidley in Huntingdonshire. In addition, the manor of Melbourn had been seized by the royalist Warin de Bassingburn (VCH Cambridgeshire).
Few of the confiscated estates were lost permanently, except in cases where Giles had abused his influence during the period when the barons controlled the country. When Robert de Stuteville had been captured and imprisoned by Henry de Montfort, he had been forced to sell Giles the manor of Withersfield in Suffolk. This manor was now restored to its former owner (Patent Roll). Giles also seems to have taken the opportunity to seize the manors of Lilley and Willian in Hertfordshire, of which his father had been deprived in 1232, and which the family had tried unsuccessfully to recover through the courts (Carpenter).
Giles received the king's pardon in February 1266 (Patent Roll), and subsequently recovered his principal estates at Wymondley, Halesworth, Melbourn and Newmarket (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem). Unsurprisingly - for he would now have been an elderly man - we hear little more of Giles, although he survived for another 16 years, dying shortly before 24 November 1282, when the sheriff of Hertford was notified of his death (Fine Roll).
[Medieval English Genealogy]
The children of Giles de Argentein
In addition to his son and heir Reginald, Giles had three younger sons:
- Richard, living 1275
- William, living 1275
- Giles, who may be identical with the famous knight who was killed at Bannockburn in 1314
(none of whom left any issue) and a daughter:
- Cassandra, who married Ralph Pyrot.
I assume that all these were the children of Ralph by Margery, as Margery seems to have been still living in 1267, while the three younger sons attested their father's charter in the mid-1270s; the earliest references linking the Argenteins and Ralph Pyrot are in the mid-1260s.
• Inquisition, 9 Jan 1247. 5 93. Richard de Angentein alias Dargentein.
Writ to the sheriff of Hertford, 9 Jan. 31 Hen. III. Inq. (undated.)
Giles Dargentein is his heir. Hertford. Magna Wylemundeleg', 1½ carucate land held of the king in chief by service of serving with a cup at the king's chief feasts when directed by the king's steward.
C. Hen. III. File 5. (12.)
• Inquisition, 20 Dec 1282. 4 463. Giles de Argenteyn alias de Argenthom, de Argenten.
Writ to the sheriff of Cambridge, 20 Dec. 11 Edw. I.
Cambridge. Entent (undated). Meldeburn. A manor (extent given) held of Gerrard de Fornival by service of 1¾ knight's fee, and 5s. yearly. Reginald his son, aged 40 and more, is his next heir.
Writ (undated fragment).
[Hertford.] Inq. (undated.)
Great Wylemondele. A messuage, 360a. arable, 2a. meadow, 3a. pasture, 40s. rent of assize, 17s. 8d. works &c. of customers and ½ mark perquisites of courts &c., held of the king in chief by serjeanty, viz.'97to serve before the king on the day of his coronation with a silver goblet or where the king's steward shall assign him to serve.
Little Welemondele. A messuage, 89a. arable, and 5s. 7d. rent of assize, held of the countess of Albemarle by service of 1 knight's fee.
(Unspecified.) A watermill held of Dervergulla de Balliolo by service of a pair of gilt spurs or 6d. yearly ; and 30a. land held of Alexander de Balliolo by service of 4d. yearly.
Heir as above.
Suffolk. Inq. (undated.)
Ixninge parish. 76a. arable.
Newmarket. 69s. rent of assize of freemen, a market worth with perquisites of court 100s. yearly, a windmill, and the advowson of a chapel situate in the town on the Suffolk side. All held in free socage of Robert de Insula.
Berton. A messuage and 120a. land with other their appurtenances, were delivered by the said Giles to Reginald de Argenthoin his firstborn son in 9 Edw. I, rendering to the said Giles 8 marks yearly so long as he should live, and to the abbot &c. of St. Edmund, of whom the said tenement is held in chief, 9s. ½d., and 21 quarters of oats.
Heir as above.
C. Edw. I. File 33. (16.)
Giles married Margery de Aguillon, daughter of Robert de Aguillon of Old Buckhurst and Margery de Fresney, before 1239. (Margery de Aguillon was born in 1222 and died between 1267 and 1274.)